One of the best things about smartwatches is that they finally give the fashion-inclined the ability to switch out watch faces without buying another $300 bit of wrist jewelry. There have been attempts to create systems whereby end users could easily create their own digital watch faces ever since the original Pebble, with varrying degrees of success. Now Asus, which has already released dozens of custom watch faces for its ZenWatch and ZenWatch 2 customers, has created its own custom watch face maker app.
Asus' ZenWatch series has gained a small but dedicated following since the original version was released thanks to the gadget's understated style and low price. The second watch in the series is now available on the US version of the Google Store, and unless we're mistaken, it's the first time the Android Wear device has been available for purchase in the country. The price is $149.99, quite low compared to competing Wear devices, and it's shipping now. Before today it was marked as "coming soon."
The ZenWatch 2 uses the ubiquitous Snapdragon 400 chipset with 4GB of storage and half a gig of RAM.
The Asus ZenWatch 2 is going to be shipping in a few days, and the company has updated the ZenWatch Manager app to get ready. The new version is basically a completely new app. The interface, features, and selection of watch faces have been completely revamped. This update boosts the number of available watch faces to a total of 50 and adds new options to almost all of them. Yes, there are 50 customizable watch faces for the ZenWatches now.
The original Asus ZenWatch was one of my favorite first-generation Wear devices because it had a slick design and competitive price ($200). It wasn't perfect, but it offered a good alternative to expensive devices like the G Watch R. The ZenWatch 2 is going to hit shelves in a few days, and at first glance it's very much like its predecessor.
Asus actually made a number of notable changes, but not all of them are positive. At the same time, the price is very attractive and there are two size options—the large one starts at $129.99 and the smaller will be $149.99.
The Asus Zenfone 2 is one of the better mid-range unlocked phones out there thanks to the robust Intel Atom SoC lurking within. Now it looks like there's a new version of this device that ships with 16GB of storage and 4GB of RAM. It's selling for $229, which is a pretty good price for what you get.
Asus announced its new ZenWatch 2 at Computex back in May, but not a lot was known about the watch's availability and pricing then. Now the company is ready to unveil the full details of its second-generation Android Wear device at IFA and prepare for its release on the market.
The ZenWatch 2 will come in two sizes in width: 41mm and 37mm. The first has a 1.63" 320x320 screen, runs on a 400mAh battery that lasts about 66 hours on ambient mode, and takes 22mm straps. The second has a smaller 1.45" 280x280 display (which rounds out to about the same ppi as the larger watch), runs on a 300mAh battery that goes up to 57 hours in ambient mode, and takes 18mm straps. Both have a Snapdragon 400, with 512MB of RAM, 4GB of internal storage, Bluetooth 4.1, Wifi, and IP67 water-resistance rating.
Asus was one of the first Android tablet OEMs to distinguish itself with devices like the original Transformer, and it followed that up with two 7-inch Nexus tablets. While Asus is no longer the Nexus tablet maker of choice at Mountain View, it's still doing some interesting things with Android slates. After a run of heavily budget-oriented tablets, Asus is launching a somewhat more premium offering, the ZenPad S 8.0. As the name implies, this is an 8-inch Android tablet with a very similar vibe to the Zenfone 2. Depending on how you look at it, that can be either good and bad.
Competition in Android smartphones is better now than it's ever been, and not just in the flagship segment. With devices like the Moto G, the ZenFone 2, and various Blu designs, the mid-range is heating up with phones that are jam-packed with value. But how about the low-end, entry phone segment? For those people who just want a device that runs a few apps, plays a nice round of Threes, and maybe browse for some sports scores? Before a few years ago, they were limited to whatever bottom-of-the-line, low-margin phones Samsung and LG would spare.
ASUS is riding high on ZenFone Fever, and at an event in India called - wait for it - Zenfestival, the company announced a slew of new ZenFone models. ZenFone 2 Deluxe, ZenFone 2 Laser, ZenFone Selfie, and ZenFone Max. Well, actually, only one of them was new - the ZenFone Max. The Laser, Deluxe, and Selfie were all announced previously, but the Max is the only really interesting one anyway (it even has a laser, don't worry).
The ZenFone Max is clearly targeted at emerging markets, blending an extremely large 5000mAh battery (how thick is this phone?) with a much more modest Snapdragon 410 processor, compared to the speedy if power-hungry Intel Atoms in the standard ZenFone 2.